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FL Gay Couples Sue Over Names On Birth Certificates

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Lisa Rosario/Albuminarium
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The first couple to be issued a same-sex marriage license in Florida sued the state Thursday, saying that the Bureau of Vital Statistics still won't allow hospitals to list both same-sex parents on birth certificates.

Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello of Miami filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee. Pareto and Arguello had twins on Aug. 6. Two other married, same-sex couples – including one in St. Petersburg -- also are part of the lawsuit.

In the hours after giving birth, Pareto said she and her wife were told by the hospital records manager that both of their names couldn't be on the birth certificate.

"Karla and I made the decision to expand our family together," Pareto said. "We went through the whole fertility process together. The whole thing has been a unified front as a married couple. To then be told I couldn't be on my own children's birth certificate? It was degrading."

Pareto and Arguello were the first same-sex couple to legally wed in the state.

Pareto said that if, for instance, a married man and woman had fertility problems and the couple had to use a sperm donor to conceive a child, the state wouldn't deny the husband the right to be on the birth certificate — even though he would be the non-biological father.

"Why are they questioning me because I'm not biologically tied?" she asked.

The LGBT group Equality Florida says the lawsuit challenges Florida's refusal to issue accurate birth certificates listing both spouses as parents of their children.

Nadine Smith, the co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, called the inability to put both names of a couple on a baby's certificate "wrong and mean-spirited."

"Pretty much almost every other state has already done this. They did it; they did it right," Smith said. "Florida's going to waste time, waste money and leave parents who should be celebrating the birth of their child in uncertainty because both parents aren't included on the birth certificate."

The state Department of Health says it does not generally comment on pending litigation. The department on Thursday filed a motion for clarification involving the state statutes regarding the wording on birth certificates.

Florida's ban on same-sex marriage ended Jan. 6.